Hundreds of billions of stars are strewn like fairy lights in the dark cosmic ocean of the universe. Until 25 years ago, our observations of the beauty and destruction of the cosmos was obscured by Earth’s atmosphere—the Hubble Space Telescope has liberated astronomers from earth-bound worries like atmospheric turbulence.
As unassuming as the Hubble may look compared to the vastness of space, the telescope is actually the length of a large school bus, weighs as much as two elephants, and travels around Earth at 5 miles per second. It has also beamed back thousands of cosmic images over the last two decades, including: the birth and death of stars, beautiful galactic pinwheels, interstellar clouds of dust, planets with sixty-seven moons, and ancient stars.
Today, we celebrate the contribution the Hubble Space Telescope has made as well as look to the future. Three years from now, a telescope even more powerful than Hubble will peer deeper into space than ever before. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be 100 times more potent and see back to nearly 200 million years after the Big Bang.
Below are only a few of the thousands of incredible images the Hubble has revealed to us over the years:
Sombrero Galaxy. NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
V838 Monocerotis. NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Carina Nebula. NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of California, Berkeley), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Interacting Galaxies Arp 273. NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Pillars of Creation. NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Cat's Eye Nebula. NASA, ESA, HEIC, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Planetary Nebula NGC 5189. NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Abell 2744 Frontier Field. NASA, ESA, and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)